On a recent Sunday afternoon, our family (husband, 14-year-old son, and I) realized we were all suffering from a common ailment after many days of rain – cabin fever. Not in the mood for potentially long lines at a water park or amusement park, and not wanting to spend another minute indoors, we all agreed that we were off to the zoo – the Cincinnati Zoo to be precise.
We have always been big zoo fans. When my son was younger, we would alternate each year with season passes to the Columbus Zoo and the Cincinnati Zoo. Since we live midway between both — and they offer reciprocal member benefits — this offered us great variety. In the past, although we always liked the closer proximity of Cincinnati and the animal variety, we preferred the overall ambiance of Columbus. But after our recent trip to the Cincinnati Zoo, we were excited to find that they now have the best of both worlds.
Immediately upon entering the zoo, my son asked how long it had been since we had last visited, because he literally didn’t recognize the place! Though we don’t think it had been more than 18 months since our last visit, the zoo seemed transformed with new lush greenery, flowers of every variety, and inviting pathways. As we walked, we also felt that there was a better flow through the exhibits and the zoo as a whole. It was as if you were casually meandering through a lovely park and happened upon exotic animals. And while the zoo parking lots were at capacity, we never felt crowded or rushed at either the exhibits or the refreshment stands.
The animal habitats also seemed fresher and more natural, making the viewing more enjoyable. We couldn’t help but notice how many animal encounter opportunities there were – from petting snakes and turtles to feeding birds and giraffes (a must-do!). There just seemed to be more opportunities than ever for close-up encounters. The variety of animals too seemed to have grown significantly. Though we have visited zoos throughout the country, we saw animals we simply couldn’t recall seeing anywhere else.
So what else makes the Cincinnati Zoo a stand-out? The staff! Being a Disney fanatic, I have a habit of comparing customer service at attractions to that found at Disney – and rarely does anything compare. But on this day, it certainly did. From those welcoming us at the admissions gate with a smile and a, “Have a zooriffic day!” greeting, to those who simply stopped to ask if anyone needed directions or assistance, to the animal keepers themselves who had a wealth of educational and entertaining information, we were wildly impressed!
If you haven’t been to the Cincinnati Zoo in the last 18 or even 12 months, this will be a whole new experience for you. Educational? Yes. Entertaining? Yes. Relaxing? Yes. Literally, something for the whole family – the young and young at heart.